Barcelona Skyline

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Pure catalan food

We in Barcelona are mourning the sudden death of Santi Santamaria who was one of the pioneers of the nova cucina catalana with his iconic 3-Michelin-star restaurant in St. Celoni. Santi, along with Ferran Adriá, and others have lead Barcelona to the very top of everybody´s list of great food cities.

But if your budget keeps you out of Michelin restaurants, or if you just want to experience the food the people around here have been eating since time immemorial, we suggest the following super typical dishes:

You have to start with the ever-present pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato). The bread must be peasant bread, sliced, toasted, and then rubbed down with freshly squeezed tomatoes: no skins please! Or course you can rub your toasted bread down with some raw garlic as well.

One of my personal favorites is espinacas a la catalana (Catalan spinach). The spinach is cooked in good Catalan olive oil with garlic, pine nuts, and raisons and then a nothing little splash of oil on top. And there are peus de porc (pig´s trotters) and cargols (snails) for the more adventuresome.

And you are just in time for the great Catalan folk feast: the calçotada is in season. Calcots are large onions which are grilled, skins and all, on open fires. Then the outer skins are pulled off and the onions are dipped in romescu sauce. Open your mouth, tip back your head, and down the hatch. The very best place to enjoy a calçotada, a meal based on these rustic beauties is at a masia, a rustic Catalan country house. But many Barcelona restaurants serve them up as well, and we can point you in the right direction.

A little advanced warning: don´t wear your best clothes to a calçotada. It can all be a bit messy. And when you are washing it all down with some good Catalan wine or even a little cava (the Catalan sparkler) why not use the porrón, your initiation rite to becoming a real Catalan. This can also be a little messy too to the uninitiated.

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